"My Three Sons"

"My Three Sons"



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ira Shor, "Empowering Education" Talking Points--Argument-Hyperlinks-Quotes


                                                                                     Ira Shor 

Critical Thinking is Key:

          Empowering Education,  by Ira Shor was a complete culmination of ideas, solutions and theories from our previous readings which focused on problems and issues in society and education.  Shor discusses in what ways “education is politics” and argues that education is too focused on having students memorize facts and accepting answers to questions that are simply being retold to them.  “It is a one way transmission of rules and knowledge from teachers to students, stifling their curiosity.”(p. 12) This cuts off the student’s development as critical thinkers about their world.  Shor also discusses the many ways in which education serves to link students to the political world, to its values, and to its prevalent discourse.

          Shor defines “empowering education” as a critical-democratic pedagogy for self and social change which is a student-centered program for multicultural democracy in school and society.(p. 15)  The teacher has to orient subject matter to student culture – their interests, needs, speech, and perceptions which has an openness where they can input jointly creating the learning process. (p.16)  He feels that just instilling facts and skills in students is not enough.  He also argues that to be critical in a democratic curriculum means to examine all subjects and the learning process in a systematic depth.  Teachers need to connect students individuality to larger social/historical issues; encourage them to see how their experiences relate to academic knowledge, power, and inequality in society, and approach received wisdom and the “status quo” with QUESTIONS!!!(p.17) 
          In order to have an empowered pedagogy Shor proposes this following agenda of values that must be incorporated in the classroom, and instilled within students. 

 Participatory, Affective, Problem-posing, Situated, Multicultural, Dialogic, Desocializing, Democratic, Researching, Interdisciplinary, and Activist.

I enjoyed the examples and appreciated the detail that Shor gave for each of these values.  I really connected with the participatory value and how he explains how young children are motivated learners, active participants, and learn through play.  Teaching kindergarten gives me in-depth understanding of how that process works and it is truly amazing to be a part of it.  I also agree that as students get older this type of learning decreases or is null in the classroom.  Feelings, dialogue, asking “why”, using personal situations to make connections, encouraging democracy and supporting and giving a voice to differences all resignate with my students and I on a daily basis.  I think Zeke would also agree.  Shor has proposed what I feel is a fabulous outline of values that also connect to views of other authors such as Finn, Delpit, August, and Kozol.  These connections would not have been made or understood as well if this article was read early-on in the class. 

This quote I feel sums up what the current status of teaching should transform into especially in the upper grades: "Empowering pedagogy develops classroom discourse from the students' cultural diversity...When problem posing situates itself in the language and perceptions of students, their diverse cultures are built into the study. When students see their worlds and experiences as problems posed... the power relations of study are allied to their interests. It becomes easier for them to understand the meaning and purpose of intellectual work. Studying is no longer submitting to a dull imposition of alien culture."(p. 44)
          I will be sharing these articles with my colleagues beyond the aspect of the final project.  Shor’s values offer a solution to the “status quo” and if implemented within the curriculum maybe EVERYONE will have a chance to get an “empowering education”.


"Empowered students make meaning and act from reflection, instead of memorizing facts and values handed to them"
This quote means that a student will be considered “empowered” when he/she has actively participated in learning, reflected upon it and creates their own meaning for that knowledge or information within the world around him/her.

Dewey believes, "participation is an educational and political means for students to gain knowledge and to develop as citizens. Only by active learning could students develop scientific method and democratic habits rather than becoming passive pupils waiting to be told what things mean and what to do."
Students have to participate actively, asking questions, seeking answers, and creating meaning that connects personally to them and within the society as a whole in order to become an interactive and important part of society.  You can’t be passive and accept things for what others tell you.  You must explore and challenge ideas to create personal meaning. He believed that learning and the government were related and if you learned in a participatory manner then you would develop as a citizen and learn democratic habits in a more proficient way.

If the students' task is to memorize rules and existing knowledge, without questioning the subject matter or the learning process, their potential for critical thought and action will be restricted know”
If students don’t challenge or ask questions about subject matter and they simply memorize what they are being told and take it for the truth they will not be able to stretch their schemas of the world and society around them.  They will not be able to connect personally and create their own viewpoints and theories surrounding that subject matter.  Their understanding will be restricted and that will lead to staying in the “status quo”.  They must use critical thinking skills which will unlock understanding and knowledge giving there learning more “meaning”.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gerri August's, "Making Room for One Another" Quotes

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Gerri August wrote a book called, Making Room for One Another.  Within this book she shares with readers  a qualitative research project she conducted at Horton School which is an urban, public charter school in the Northeast.  Her primary focus was situated in Zeke Lerner’s Kindergarten classroom where his teaching practices aligned with principles of a democratic, transformative pedagogy.  It also focused on a Cambodian boy named “Cody” who was adopted by lesbian moms. August wanted to originally see what happens when a child with lesbian parents and children from other non-dominant family structures share their stories in a classroom led by a teacher committed to democratic pedagogy.  However, data did not allow for interpretation because “Cody” the boy of focus, did not offer any narratives on the topic.  Cody is resistant to answer questions or share information about his “moms” or his family dynamic (constellation).  August does state that the absence of that data was meaningful in itself and invited interpretation.  What the data did provide was a working definition of a democratic pedagogy.  August observed this classroom, took notes, audio, and also did interviews during her research.  In the three chapters we were assigned to read from Gerri August’s, Making Room for One Another I gained great insight into how to go about creating a more democratic classroom myself and the commitment, effort and forethought that needs to go into it.  Within these chapters August lets you in to see what types of situations arise, the responses and dialogue that occurs and “how” Zeke’s dynamic and designed dialogicality during “morning meeting” created a democratic classroom community.  His techniques and interventions were definitely useful and powerful in creating a classroom in which every child was now represented, validated, and supported. 

I teach Kindergarten and I loved how Gerri August opens dialogue with her readers making the analogy between “going to school” and having an “adventure”.  My classroom is quite the adventure on a daily babsis for everyone who enters through my door.  I connected personally with Gerri August’s book  because the story of  “Cody” hit home because I have an African American student in my class who was adopted by white lesbian moms as a toddler.  I realized how committed and supportive I need to be in order to give my students a positive cultural learning experience in order for them to enjoy the same adventure students from  the “norm” or who match the dominant culture or the school get.  August asks many questions concerning discourse, societal bias, and dominant ideology.  They made me really think about how “all” children and families need to be represented and have a voice within the classroom. 
The following quotes from Making Room for One Another ......

"If educators understand that society is in the process of being both preserved and transformed by our collective activities, then we will see our classrooms as activity systems that have both roots and wings"  
This spoke to me as an educator.  It is saying that teachers just like Zeke need to understand that our world right now is changing.  We teach children about history and the way things use to be in order to preserve the importance of where we came from etc. but they also have to understand that our society is changing and being transformed to accomodate many ways of thinking other than what is known historically which are our "roots".  We must teach our students and involve them in not only the history but through our words and, actions and interactions open them up to things other than the dominant-culture.  Our society and our ways of living, thinking and feeling have expanded to allow others in.  We are building more acceptance which allows children to take flight(wings) and embrace who they are...no matter who that may be.  In our classrooms, our roots will always be there, planted firmly in the ground where we come from, how we were taught to think and live  but teachers should create an environment open to change and acceptance that allows children to be free to do and feel what they think is right.  It reminds me of when Zeke talks about families.  He acknowledges the "norm" but expands on that to include other types of families as normal too.  He validates and supports not just the roots which began the growth.

“He (Zeke) wanted students to stretch their social schemas that were already constrained by dysconscious biases” (August 147)
Zeke was trying to create a more democratice classroom which means a classroom accepting of everyone in it.  It was a class where differences were embraced, validated and supported no matter what their "social schema" or view of how society is organized and works.  Without knowing it these children are bias.  They have an idea or preference to a certain type of way of life, or how things work.  Zeke wanted to expand that way of thinking and stretch their ideas about the way society or the world works.  He promoted acceptance and open mindness to wrk toward breaking bias ways of thinking.  Through Zeke's interventions and lessons he did just that.  He was supporting of what his students thought or knew to be true and wove in new information and facts about what they previously thought.  

"Without a moral imagination that includes the expectation and valuing of diversity, without engendering a commitment to widen our circle to make room for one another, our children will be ill prepared to work toward our collective progress" (August, 12)
Basically what I feel this is saying in realation to the text and our world is if we DON'T expand our moral thoughts and ideas to include the diversity that exists(race, sexual orientation, language, color etc.) and make a commitment to allowing who may be different from us into our circle, our children of the future are going to be "STUCK" in the same place we are now and they won't have the tools or the knowledge to work towards a better more acceting society.  They won't be able to be part of the solution.  Just as Zeke and his students make room for children with many different diverse backgrounds into his "circle time" to share and explore accepting them as all equal and important to the group.....we must open our circle to make room for one another in society.

In closing I just want to say allowing the opportunity to students "to walk a path that would help lead them to a more democratic class and way of thinking as they become a bigger part of society is a great step in the right direction towards being part of the "solution".

These are some videos that I thought were interesting.  It gives some good insight into the lives of non-dominant family units.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Collier & Rodriguez-----Extended Understanding

After discussing Collier and Rodriguez and the connections to Delpit I now feel I have a better understanding of the similarities in theory and differences.  At first I thought Delpit and Rodriguez had similar views on the "culture of power" and its reference to education, language, etc.  I know feel that though they both feel one must be a part of the culture of power in order to be successful, they differ on "at what cost" this should be done.  Rodriguez, though he told a personal story of loss and struggles he went through learning English to be a part of ther culture of power, he simply accepts the fact you lose part of your personal culture and individuality.  He feels it is just the price one must pay.  It is a sacrifice worth making in the end in order to be "Americanized" and part of the culture of power--to have success and compete.  However, Delpit does agree that in order to compete with SCWAMMP and in the culture of power you have to learn the codes and rules of how this culture works and functions but she does not agree with losing or giving up with your personal individuality and culture connection you have at home.  To give that up or to sacrifice that would not be beneficial.  She doesn't want you to change who you are......just learn how to "play the game".  Collier has a similar connection to Delpit in the sense that she too doesn't want the home language/culture to be given up but one must begin with that first language and build upon it in order to become successful and have the tools needed to function within "society".    Thses discussions really help put things into perspective and help me to better understand the theories of each.....  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rodriguez and Collier – Connections


In Virginia Collier’s, “Teaching Multilingual Children” she begins by expressing how fulfilling teaching is but  also acknowledges the challenges and complexities teachers  face when teaching multilingual students.  She wants to help teachers feel confidence in teaching and also allow parents to know what the expectations of their children will be.  In order to better understand how to make teaching English to second-language learners an enriching experience and appreciating students’ different languages and life situations, Collier outlines seven guidelines that can help educators.  The guidelines are as follows:
1. Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language.
2. Do not think of yourself as a remedial teacher expected to correct so called “deficiencies” of your students.
3. Don’t teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language.
4. Teach the standard form of English and students’ home language together with and appreciation of dialect differences to create an environment of language recognition in the classroom.
5. Do not forbid students from code-switching in the classroom. Understand the functions code-switching serves.
6. Provide literacy development curriculum that is specifically designed for ELL.
7. Provide a balanced and integrated approach to the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Collier states that the reason to use all of these activities in the classroom is to make language learning as relevant as possible, eliminate boredom, and raise awareness.  She wants not only the student to be enriched but also the teachers.

In "Aria" Richard Rodriguez shares his personal and  emotional experiences as a Spanish speaking child attending an English only school.  He talks about, how as a  socially disadvantaged child  he thought Spanish was a “private language” as opposed to the “public language” of English.  Rodriguez said, “What I needed to learn in school was that I had the right and the obligation to speak the public language.”  He didn’t feel like he had a public identity until he learned the language.  Rodriguez struggled to learn English and even said he didn’t feel like it was his language to use.  It wasn’t until the nuns came to his house to encourage Richard to practice English that the change began.   The more his family spoke English the angrier Rich-heard got.  Weeks later he began to speak English and finally believed for the first time he belonged.  By seven years old he finally believed what had actually been true the whole time, “that he was an American citizen.  Rodriguez felt proud to belong and even his parents grew more publically confident with English but he definitely felt a loss at the same time.  He discusses how he felt losing the closeness with his family as they became more confident in his English. He talks about how as the children became more fluent in English, the dialogue between parents and children lessened.  The closeness at home was diminishing but that was the price the family had to pay in order to be a part of public society.  Through Rodriguez’s personal account of how he acquired the English language it gave me as a teacher a deeper look inside what some of my students must go through as individuals and as a family.
Rodriguez makes a strong statement to the bilingualists who say assimilating causes students to lose a degree of individuality.  He states, “While one suffers a dimimished sense of individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes it possible the achievement of public individuality.”

 During my readings of Collier and Rodriguez I discovered there were many connections I could make to previous articles I read.  In Finn’s, Literacy with an Attitude he discusses the importance of literacy in order to become successful.  In Collier’s article she to emphasizes the importance of literacy to be able to be successful in society.  When reflecting upon Finn’s empowering education vs domesticating education which I agree with I thought to myself that Rodriguez got what Finn would say was a domesticating education but for him it was quite “empowering.”  It enabled him to achieve success and public individuality.  I also feel that Collier is emphasizing ways for students to receive relevant and empowering literacy which is exactly what Finn argues is important.  He says, “..literacy and school knowledge could be a potent weapon in the working class’ struggle for a better deal…” (Literacy with an Attitude, xii).

In “Other People’s Children”, Delpit argues you should hold onto your culture but in order for you to be successful you must learn the rules of the power of culture.  In both Collier and Rodriguez’s articles they discuss the importance of holding onto one’s language which directly reflects their culture.  However, just as Rodriguez needed to learn English in order to have and feel successful he had to learn the “language” that the  “power of culture” uses.  Delpit believes strongly that in order for minorities to stand a chance they have to know the rules and learn the dominant language in order to compete and be successful. 
I also feel that Delpit would be able to agree with and relate to both articles.  Collier emphasizes specific explicit ways to teach English to second language learners and with Rodriguez I feel she too would agree that it was a necessity for him to learn English in order to be accepted, feel successful and as if he was finally a part of “society”. 

The last comment I have about connections is that while reading Rodriguez’s story especially how his father became quiet and almost silenced I couldn’t help but think of Delpit’s, “Silenced Dialogue.”  Though the premise was different it made me think of all the ways minorities are silenced and how the power of culture takes over.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Elizabeth Meyer's, "Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools" EXTENDED COMMENTS

                                   Elizabeth Meyers, "Gender Harassment in Secondary Schools", is a study done in response to earlier studies that have shown that sexual and homophobic harassment are accepted parts of school culture where faculty and staff rarely or never intervene to stop this harassment.  Students reported in these studies that teachers stand by and allow biased and hurtful behaviors to go unchallenged in their school and it is at the expense of the students.  "Why teachers do not intervene consistently" when it come to gender harassment is the question Meyer explores in her research paper.  She interviewed six secondary school teachers in one urban public school district in Canada to try and understand this phenomenon from their point of view.  
Meyer's findings indicated that there were internal and external influences that shape how teachers respond to gender harassment/bullying in their schools.  Internal influences include personal identities and teachers’ own experiences in school while the external factors include institutional influences such as administration, curriculum demands and work load, teacher education, and written policies.  External factors also can include social influences such as perceptions of administration, interpersonal relationships, and community values. She argues that these influences are the framework for the barriers and motivators that shape teacher responses.  Meyer's found that, 
"Queer theorists and other scholars of gender and sexuality have argued effectively that sex, gender, and sexual orientation are three distinct aspects of an individual’s identity and experience" (Bem, 1993; Butler, 1990; Connell, 1995; Jagose, 1996; Sedgwick, 1990/1993; Sullivan, 2003).   Meyer agrees with this perspective and believes many individuals merge these ideas which often results in 3 forms of harassment; sexual harassment, homophobic harassment and harassment for gender non-conformity.  She also argues that the way teachers understand these forms of gendered harassment will impact how and when they choose to intervene in incidents that they witness at school.  She explains that by identifying the barriers from the teachers’ perspectives, we can design more effective intervention programs to support educators in their efforts to create safer spaces in schools.  After her in depth interviews with teachers she found that personal experience and identity are the biggest motivators in taking action against gendered harassment.  The importance lies with educating and informing those teachers who have not experienced gendered harassment so they will become aware aware of it and be able to respond to it in the appropriate ways.  Meyer emphasizes that in orderr to address and help change this issue we should focus on teacher education, administraative support and school policies. To go about this change she also  stresses that building awareness of the problem is the first step before we can find a solution. 

    "My response based on questions Brigette took from Meyer's Text"

In Brigette's blog she summarizes Meyer's research and looks deeper into the issue through questions and answers.  She explains that teachers aren’t as likely to intervene in cases of gendered harassment in comparison to other forms of bullying and that is due to societal norms and gender roles. I do agree with this to some point.  I think it always one always second guesses themselves when their decision may go against the dominant ideology.  They feel there will be repercussions for them with inside their “school culture”.

Brigette also explains Meyer’s point on lack of consistency among educators in how to deal with gender harassment. Meyer found that teachers respond to gendered harassment based on their personal experiences,  administrator’s views, the community, and their work load.  I agree it would be very difficult to respond to an issue such as this with consistency if all these factors come into play.  One of the biggest factors I feel is the consistency of written policy.  What is the school’s or towns policy on gender harassment?  There aren’t specific enough policies to follow and definitely not enough consistency in “Follow Through” when it comes to those students doing the harassing. There needs to be specific policies and procedures and administration needs to be held responsible for the follow through.

I think it is unbelievable that teachers don’t have the support of their administrators when dealing with gender harassment and that they couldn’t be bothered with dealing with it.  I feel this sets the tone for the entire school and to those students who again, are bullying.  If students know that that the reproductions are minor when bullying students they are not going to be deterred from doing it.  Their own principal could care less, so why would they.  I also feel teachers do not want to go against their principal or anyone higher up than them and if I were in their situation I would feel very discouraged as well.  We need “anti-bullying programs” such as the one in Brigette’s mother’s school.

In response to Meyers findings that “many teachers felt their work load and curriculum demands made it difficult for them to take the time to deal with gender harassment”, I can honestly say I believe that.  Also training should be mandatory across the country.  Gender harassment is not “isolated” it is a problem throughout schools across the entire country.  I will have to say when I am over loaded at school it would be very easy to brush other issues to the side but this is not a case of a Kindergartner tattling on their classmate for writing on the desks.  This is SERIOUS

As Brigette

Meyer’s study helped me to understand the underlying issues of gender harassment when it comes to how teachers respond and why.  I feel no matter what the administrators feel or what the policies are you will always have teachers will respond strictly by their personal identity, views, opinions and experiences.  Sometimes that is a positive thing and sometimes that is a huge “barrier”.  The only way for this issue to be dealt with is identifying that there is a serious problem concerning this issue, explains the importance, and further express possible solutions which I feel is OPEN DIALOGUE and TRAINING for all teachers.  The policies also need to be set in stone and the administrators need to know  “What Is Going On In Their School” and address it immediately..

I have one student who is black and was adopted by white parents.  If that issue is not difficult enough for her, both her parents are women.  No one has ever made her feel upset, bad or bullied her because of her family but they dooooooo ask many questions.  I try to have open dialogue with my students no matter what the issue.  I help support them in any way and most of the time it means explaining “WHY?” things are the way they are.  I am open and honest at all costs within what I feel is appropriate for them to hear and hope it begins at a young age to build understanding and acceptance.  To have any 2 parents that love and support you is a wonderful thing…..Can’t we focus on that?”  I also believe this issue scares some people or they are threatened by sexuality different from theirs.  These students and teachers need to educate themselves and not put their insecurities onto others.


Here are some resources you can use to stop the spread of bullying:
Rogue Reviews articles

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stan Karp's, "Who's Bashing Teachers.........." Hyperlinks

Stan Karp: Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It?

                                                          Stan Karp, gave an enlightening and realistic speech at Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon called "Who's Bashing Teachers and Public Schools, and What Can We Do About It?"  
   Oprah Winfrey                      Paramount Pictures

Stan Karp starts his speech off by saying " The Oprah Winfrey Show and Paramount Pictures—is where a lot of education policy is apparently being made these days—and was turning them all into publicly accountable institutions devoted to improving education for all kids—and this was the first meeting of the
new steering committee."

Waiting for Superman on Opray Winfrey-Take a Peek!

Oprah and guests
According to Karp, “Secretary Duncan and Bill Gates are going around the country proposing that schools save money by increasing class sizes, ending the practice of paying teachers for advanced degrees, closing and consolidating schools, and replacing live teachers with online computer programs."  This statement sounds exactly like what is going on in Rhode Island and around the country.    

Teachers' Union Responds to Waiting for Superman and comments made on Oprah Winfrey.

Teachers and Viewer Responses to Oprah Winfrey and Waiting for Superman.

Stan Karp gave this speech to resond to the movie "Waiting for Superman".  When this movie opened it created a lot of controversy on public education, teachers, reform and many other issues.    The movie looked at our current state of public education in a negative way.  It's message was that bad teachers and the unions that protect them are the root of the problem.   Fortunately Karp and many others do not agree with the message this movie is sending.  While some may be waiting for superman to rescue them, but Karp is definitely  NOT Waiting for Superman.

In "Who's Bashing Teachers...", Stan Karp discusses how unfair it is to judge teachers based on test scores, when there are so many other factors that affect a child's performance. The underlying issues that are hindering student performance in standardized testing, such as language, race, and poverty must be addressed in order to improve the education system.  This is what happened at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, all the teachers were fired because students scored so  low on the state math assessment.

Enough Bashing Teachers Article

I agree with Karp when he said, "Assessments are important. Assessments are a great tool to help educators understand what their students need extra support in and to plan instruction, but before you can give an assessment and expect to receive valid information children need to be protected from poverty first." Our country as Karp states has a 23% child poverty rate.  This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed.  Poverty like so many other factors contribute to low assessment scores not just "bad teachers".

               David Serchuk  David Serchuk
                                         Enough Bashing Teachers Article 

Everytime I turn on the news I find myself asking my co-workers that next day, "What's Up With All the Teacher Bashing?   There are many more reasons for lack of student achievement, I wish someone would dig deeper than their pockets to open charter schools.

Karp states "that in the past 10 years, the character of charter schools movement has changed dramatically from community-based, educator-initiated local efforts to create alternatives for a small number of students to nationally funded efforts by foundations, inevesters, and educational management companies to create a parallell, more privatized system."   Our president even is in support of more charter schools when in fact only 17%  had better test scores than comparable public schools.  Though the teachers who work in charter schools may be cheaper to higher, they are 4 times more likely to leave their position at the charter school.    

This is just a little video called "Superman" that is about someone realizing he needs to STOP pretending he is "Superman."  My opinion is that so should the people who wrote and support "Waiting for Superman."

My Final Thoughts:
I can't wait to see the movie "Waiting for Superman" in class.  All the controversy about it has intrigued me.  After reading Karp I can't imagine having any positive comments about it.
P.S. I tried my hardest on this "HYPERLINK" blog and let's just say things did not go as I planned.  Either myself or my computer is very "computer savy".  SORRY    :(  Blog troubles are getting me down.